Masoka Dube

THE Mpumalanga Department of Education is on a mission to get rid of pit toilets at public schools in the province, says MEC Sibusiso Malaza. He is undertaking a tour of schools in the province to inspect the progress of new toilets being built.

Malaza has already officially opened numerous completed toilets to different schools including Potsanyane, Sibis, Ikageng, Mmasekaseka and Moepi Secondary Schools in Marapyane Circuit at the Dr JS Moroka Local Municipality.

“We are pulling all the stops to improve the delivery and improvement of sanitation infrastructure, provisioning of water and the installation of electricity in all schools. This is a noble way to restore the dignity of learners and teachers and to create a learning and teaching environment that is truly conducive,” said Malaza.

“This is an endeavour to make sure that at least 95% of schools within the province meet the minimum basic services standards in terms of water and sanitation.”

In Nkangala District alone, the department has already implemented 129 projects to demolish pit toilets and replace them with decent toilets.

In his provincial budget speech earlier this year, finance MEC Skhumbuzo Kholwane said that R373 million had been set aside for the provision of 130 water projects and 180 improvements of school sanitation infrastructure projects for the 2019/20 financial year.

According to recent statistics released by Africacheck.org, Mpumalanga has 405 schools that still have pit toilets.

When addressing the media in March this year, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said she was confident that the government would eradicate the remaining 3898 pit toilets in the country’s schools within the next three years. She said more than 787 schools had been provided with decent sanitation facilities so far.

President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative last year in an attempt to rid schools of pit toilets.